The artist Jay Havens spent the weeks leading up to the Iroquois Museum’s 2022 annual Labor Day festival installing a community-involved “wampum belt” along the outdoor performance pavilion that is central to festival activities.
During the four weeks that Havens worked on this piece, he welcomed museum visitors to join him in weaving “beads” onto the fence that supports the “belt”. Commonly using recycled and locally resourced materials in his visual artworks, Havens chose to use pieces of PVC pipe for this installation. To weave the PVC beads onto the fence, visitors would stand on opposite sides of the fence as they strung beads onto wire, passing the wire back and forth with Havens or another visitor as the weaving took place. While museum visitors from the local community and around the world took part in weaving this wampum belt, Havens explained the history and importance of wampum belts to them, gently raising heavy topics like broken treaties and forced removal to contextualize the colorful figures with linked hands that formed on the fence as these conversations took place.
The belt image is one designed by Havens specially for the celebratory nature of the performance pavilion area and the multicultural visitors that the museum and its events attract. The design symbolizes a diverse gathering of people coming to listen as a Haudenosaunee person (central figure in the belt, holding a two-row wampum belt) speaks.
This spring was a happy one for vining plants! Warm days, cool nights, and lots (lots) (lots lots) of rain had the peas growing into a jungle and the purple vetch covering the walls of the vegetable garden. Oh, and collard greens that grew over 6 feet tall!
I have continued my exploration into using fabric/trim/lace in jewelry, sometimes just using a piece of rickrack as a choker, and sometimes taking the time to find the right weight and composite of beads to compliment something so light and agile. Here is one recent effort:
The speckled blue and yellow beads came from my husband’s aunt, they belonged to his grandmother. I never met this woman, but I love that I have received a box of deconstructed jewelry that once belonged to her. This is one perk of making beaded jewelry: people tend to give you meaningful beads that they have collected over the years and you get to make something that commemorates that meaning. I have a few pieces made so far from the beads that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother, and I love that when I visit his aunt, she always recognizes them. By creating something new, I am part of her memory of a loved one and ancestral connection.
For those who make jewelry: the three-strand format is complicated for a piece of woven fiber, as you might be able to tell from the picture. There is not really a way to help the light weight fabric not get entangled/overwhelmed by the heavier glass beads. I still love and wear this necklace, but it is something I would think twice before designing as a gift or to sell, because it requires careful handling.
A friend had a masquerade and I decided to go as a pile of leaves. Making this dramatic headdress at my grandmother’s kitchen table had us laughing till it hurt. I had to take off my shoes and go barefoot so that it wouldn’t hit ceiling fixtures. I have no regrets!
The day after the event, I went and got lost in the trees for a photoshoot of the canonization of my becoming the patron saint of fallen leaves:
…and since I did not have the heart to dismantle it, the leaf headdress now lives as a fashionable fire danger on top of a lamp at the cabin:
One thing I love about making gifts for people is putting thought into their style. I consider the colors I usually see them wear, what sorts of designs they seem attracted to, and what materials they might like. Even if I am off the mark and what I’ve made isn’t exactly that person’s style, it is something that has been made uniquely with them in mind.
Vintage lace necklace with wooden and stone beads
Last year I bought an enormous collection of vintage trim/lace/rick-rack off of ebay, I am beginning to experiment with using those materials in jewelry. I have never used the ribbon clamps holding the lace in place before, I am hoping that they will be durable and hold on to it tightly. The necklace feels so light and delicate with such a large part of it being merely lace. I used wooden beads for this reason, I didn’t want to use something heavy that might compromise the durability of the necklace but also would offset the airiness of it.
Earrings with wooden leaves and dyed cultivated pearls
Earrings with red and purple glass beads, red clay beads
Earrings with glass beads: blue faceted and gold foil faceted
It’s still a little too cold in the Northeastern US to plant much outside. I have peas and kale, who love colder spring weather, started outdoors. In the meantime, I’ve run out of front window space! Seedlings have taken over!
A plastic egg carton makes a very good seed-starting greenhouse. Most plastic egg cartons have three sections- one that goes under the eggs, one that goes over the eggs, and the lid. Cut off the one that goes over the eggs with scissors and then poke holes at the bottom of it with a knife. That piece will then fit right into the section that goes over the eggs, so that the one with holes in it can hold dirt and drain water, and the one underneath it can capture the water. Until the seeds sprout and get too tall, you can use the lid as the top of your greenhouse.
Editing to add some pics from my cellphone to make this simple process more clear:
Separate the two egg-shaped trays
Make holes in the bottom of the separated tray
Pick out some seeds, these were my choice today
After putting the separated tray with holes back into the intact tray, put a shallow layer of dirt in each compartment and add a seed or two!
Fill up the rest of the way with dirt and pat down
I bought a huge lot of vintage sewing trim on ebay this summer and it came with a few rolls of bias tape (for securing hems) that I wasn’t sure what I was ever going to do with. Well, I had two sets of paintings I wanted to gift to some friends and was planning to attach them with jewelry chain, but my friend Kaori gave me the idea of using bias tape to connect and hang the paintings. I used a staple gun, which was definitely overkill and has a little bit of a negative aesthetic, but it’s less permanent or potentially damaging than glue. I’m pretty satisfied with how it worked, and how easy it was!